A Manhattan judge on Saturday rejected a request from former President Trump's legal team to recuse himself from a hush-money case against the ex-president.
Judge Juan Merchan issued a statement affirming his ability to remain "fair and impartial" in the case, where Trump is accused of paying adult film actress Stormy Daniels ahead of his 2016 presidential campaign.
The judge's decision came after Trump's lawyers argued he should recuse himself due to donations of $15 to then-candidate Joe Biden’s presidential campaign, $10 to the Progressive Turnout Project, and $10 to Stop Republicans during the 2020 election cycle.
The legal team also raised the issue of Merchan's daughter, president of a digital firm that had done work for President Biden's campaign.
According to the New York State Advisory Committee on Judicial Ethics, however, there was nothing to suggest that an outcome from the case could affect Merchan or his daughter's interests.
In dismissing the motion to recuse, Merchan said Trump's team failed to make any substantive argument for bias on his part.
"Defendant has failed to demonstrate that there exists concrete, or even realistic reasons for recusal to be appropriate, much less required on these grounds," the judge wrote. "The speculative and hypothetical scenarios offered by Defendant fall well short of the legal standard."
The trial is set to take place in March 2024, after four indictments against the former president.
Trump has been accused of manipulating the payments to Daniels as part of an effort to benefit from an election campaign, and not saying they were made on his behalf until his lawyer Rudy Giuliani admitted it in 2018. He has denied all charges.
With Trump's recusal request dismissed, the legal team will focus its attention on preparing a defense for the trial. However, the case raises questions about whether the former president can still receive a fair trial. Many of his supporters are skeptical that his former donations will not influence the judge's decision.
The outcome of the case will have significant implications, not only for Trump but for US politics and the nation as a whole. The trial is sure to attract a lot of attention as it tests the strength of the nation's judicial system.